Delta Bean and Ham Soup

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes



Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

In one version or another, I’ve had this spicy bean soup from the Louisiana Delta right up to the Texas border. The most memorable I’ve tasted was made with the highly spiced and smoked Cajun ham called tasso, but since tasso is still not that easy to come by outside the region, I’ve learned that aged country ham works almost as well. While few Louisiana cooks would bother to simmer the beans this long and turn part of them into a purée, I find that the extra time and effort transforms an ordinary potage into a rather refined first course.


  • 2 cups dried kidney beans
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ cup diced lean country ham
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Place the beans in a bowl with enough water to cover and let soak overnight.

Drain, rinse, and pick over the beans, place in a large, heavy pot, and add the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer 1 hour.

Add all the remaining ingredients, bring the soup back to simmer, cover, and cook 2 hours longer.

In a blender or food processor, purée about one-quarter of the soup, return to the pot, and stir well. Heat the soup thoroughly and serve in soup bowls or plates.